Anonymous breaks into Assad's server

Barbara Walters and Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Dec. 7, 2011. YouTube

Anonymous has released hundreds of emails after hacking into a mail server used by Syrian President Bashar al Assad's office - including one revealing how he was prepped in advance of a much-publicized December interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

The interview took place amid Syria's increasingly harsh crackdown against civilian protesters. During the interview, Assad repeatedly denied reports of civilian massacres, telling Walters "no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person."

Leaked documents: Part one
Leaked documents: Part two

But Anonymous, again showing its skill at hacking into supposedly secure government websites, broke into the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs and got its hands on a trove of emails. Among other things, the documents reveal the back-and-forth between Assad's advisers discussing how their boss should handle the expected questions from Walters. (In many cases, the password that some employees used was "12345," according to Haaretz.)

"It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it'," Sheherazad Jaafari - a press attache at the Syrian mission to the United Nations wrote. "It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings."

She suggested that Assad tell Walters "Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture."

Haaretz has the full story here.

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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